Holding His Breath

Most years, a handful of punters hear their names called during the NFL Draft. Former Iowa State standout Kirby Van Der Kamp could be one of the lucky few this weekend

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Iowa State University Cyclones



Wes Des Moines, Iowa

Valley High School


No football coach looks forward to sending his punting unit onto the field on fourth down. However, when Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads had to call his punter's name, he had a consolation. Rhoads knew he was not sending just any punter onto the field to kick the ball away; he was sending a weapon in Van Der Kamp. The Big Twelve Conference's most often used punter, his 289 boots topped the old league record of 277 by Daniel Sepulveda of Baylor (2003-06).

"We score more points when we have shorter fields on offense, we allow less points when we have longer fields as a defense," Rhoads said. "Having someone like Kirby who can pin teams inside the 20-yard line certainly is a great weapon."

Van Der Kamp established himself as one of the premier punters in college football, garnering All-Big Twelve Conference honors three times. He holds the school all-time records with 289 punts for 12,261 yards, as both figures rank third among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision players. His average of 42.43 yards placed second on the Cyclones' career-record chart.

Having a strong leg is not the only reason that the senior from West Des Moines, Iowa excels, however. With precision and a technically-sound form, Van Der Kamp became a master at pinning opponents deep inside their own territory. He pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line 99 times in his career, including 29 times in 2012 and 27 during his final season. Rhoads attributes much of the success to Van Der Kamp's tireless work ethic and dedication.

"He studies his craft," Rhoads said. "He understands the weather, he understands the wind, he understands the yard line. He understands different types of punts to allow him to do what he needs to do."

Van Der Kamp explained that, as a punter, much of your learning has to be done on your own. He said that the hours of film study are what make all the difference.

"I study other punters to see what works for them," Van Der Kamp said. "You watch the guys in the pros who have been there and you look at their form. You can take what you want from that. If you don't have the right technique you're going to struggle a lot, so I watch every kick I have every day. I just look at the little things and figure out how to correct my form a little bit. It's all really technical."

Part of what makes Van Der Kamp's statistics so impressive is that so many of his kicks come in Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State's home stadium is known for causing headaches for kickers because of the way the wind swirls on the field.

"A lot of kickers are mental cases when it comes to wind," Van Der Kamp said. "Every day when I walk out the door I check how windy it is, and in Ames it's always windy, so I just don't expect anything less. I just try to be very aware of my position on the field and where the wind is because I have to play it right. Jack Trice is a hard place to punt because you can walk five yards and the wind will change direction."

It is not only on the field that Van Der Kamp's efforts have been noticed. He was also a nominee for the 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, as well as being voted a captain by his teammates this year.

"I like doing off the field-type stuff like going to the hospital on Fridays before home games and working with kids," Van Der Kamp said. "It's just giving back to the community because they have done so much for us and for the program, and I just love doing those type of things."

The four-year starter began his career as a Freshman All-American in 2010 with a 45.2 yard per punt average, which ranks second all-time in Iowa State history. It also placed ninth among the major college kickers that year. As a sophomore, Van Der Kamp had the only punt blocked during his career, but he still averaged 42.7 yards per attempt, the sixth-best average in a campaign by a Cyclone.

"You watch the guys in the pros who have been there and you look at their form. You can take what you want from that. If you don't have the right technique you're going to struggle a lot."

Van Der Kamp was a Ray Guy award semi-finalist as a junior, averaging 41.0 yards on 77 boots, placing a career-best 29 kicks inside the 20-yard line to finish with a 38.81-yard net average. A second-team All-Big Twelve Conference selection and Senior Bowl invitee as a senior, he closed out his career with 84 punts for 3,483 yards (41.6 avg), adding 21 yards on a rushing attempt while completing one pass for 25 yards.


4.84 in the 40-yard dash…31 5/8-inch arm length…9 3/8-inch hands…76 ¼-inch wingspan.


In four seasons at Iowa State, Van Der Kamp punted 289 times for 12,261 yards (42.43 avg) as he had 61 punts for 50 yards or longer, 99 that were downed inside the 20-yard line and 76 kicks that were returned for 702 yards and three touchdowns, finishing with a 38.20-yard net average…Recorded three tackles, completed both pass attempts for 50 yards and generated 76 yards on five fake punt/runs…NCAA Career-Record Results…Among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision players, Van Der Kamp ranks third for amount of punts and punt yardage…Ranks 18th in punting average and tenth with an average of 5.19 punts per game…His punt yardage figure ranks fourth in FBS history…Big Twelve Conference Career-Record Results…Holds the league all-time record with 289 punts, topping the previous mark of 277 by Daniel Sepulveda of Baylor (2003-06)…Also ranks second on the Big Twelve all-time chart with 12,261 yards punting…School Career-Record Results… Established new school career records with 289 punts for 12,261 yards, topping the old marks of 268 kicks for 10,022 yards by Rich Miller (1978-81)…His average of 42.43 yards rank second in ISU annals behind Marc Harris (43.1 avg; 1993-96)…School Season-Record Results…Ranks second on the annual record chart with a 45.17-yard average based on 60 punts in 2010, surpassed by Marc Harris (45.7 avg; 1996)…School Game-Record Results… His career-long 74-yard punt vs. Texas in 2010 rank eighth on the school's longest punt sheet.



The 2014 Senior Bowl participant earned All-Big Twelve Conference second-team honors, as the co-captain and Ray Guy Award Watch List member ranked sixth in the league with a career-high 84 punts for 3,493 yards (41.58 avg), as 27 kicks were downed inside the 20-yard line and 17 boots were for 50 yards or longer…Finished with a 37.51-yard net average, as he had sixteen kicks returned for an 11.38-yard average and two touchdowns, as he was charged with eight touchbacks, but produced 22 fair catches…Ran for 21 yards on a fake punt vs. West Virginia and completed a 25-yard pass on another fake punt in the Texas Christian clash…The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee averaged 47.5 yards on 11 kicks vs. Texas Tech, including four 50-yarders…Boomed a season-long 65-yarder vs. Oklahoma State and converted two fourth-down conversions on fake punt situations.


The Ray Guy Award semifinalist earned All-Big Twelve Conference second-team honors from the league's coaches…The recipient of the Jim Doran Award (Team's Outstanding Performer on Special Teams) was also named Academic All-Big Twelve second-team and a conference Scholar-Athlete…He led the league with 77 punts for 3,157 yards (41.0 avg), as his yardage total was eighth-best in the NCAA FBS ranks…Had seventeen punts returned for a 7.59-yard average, placing a career-high 29 kicks inside the 20-yard line, with ten good for 50 yards or longer...Saw 30 of his kicks called for fair catches and had a career-low two touchbacks, finishing with a 38.81-yard net average…Gained 12 yards on a fake punt rushing attempt vs. West Virginia…In the season-opening win over Tulsa, he averaged 43 yards on nine punts and dropped five punts inside 16-yard line…His biggest game came vs. Texas Tech when he averaged 49.3 yards per punt with four longer than 50 yards.


Received All-Big Twelve Conference honorable mention from the Associated Press and the league's coaches…Led the conference with 68 punts for 2,901 yards, as his average of 42.66 yards per attempt rank sixth on the school season-record list…Placed 21 kicks inside the 20-yard line, had fifteen boots for at least 50 yards, ten touchbacks and eleven punts that were called for fair catches…Had one kick blocked and 24 returned for 157 yards to compile a 37.41-yard net average…Ran twice from fake punts for a total of 26 yards (once each vs. Kansas and Kansas State) and recorded a solo tackle…Listed on the Big Twelve Commissioner's Honor Roll, he punted five times at an average of 51.2 yards per kick with a long of 65 vs. Northern Iowa with three kicks over 50 yards and three inside the 20…Put four punts inside the 20 at Connecticut and had a season long punt of 67 yards vs. Baylor.


Named to the Freshman All-American team by Rivals.com, Van Der Kamp added All-Big Twelve Conference second-team accolades from the Associated Press…Recipient of the Dury Moss Award (Team's Outstanding Newcomer) and Jim Doran Award (Team's Out-standing Performer on Special Teams)…Punted 60 times for 2,710 yards, as his average of 45.17 yards rank second on the school season-record chart…His 74-yard punt vs. Texas was the eighth-longest in ISU annals…Had 19 kicks for at least 50 yards and 22 that were downed inside the 20-yard line…Nineteen of his boots were returned for a 12.32-yard average, as he had six touchbacks on the way to a 39.27-yard net average.


Van Der Kamp attended Valley (West Des Moines, Ia.) High School, playing football for head coach Gary Swenson…Ranked tenth on the Iowa Top 10 list compiled by Rivals.com as the two-year letter-winner averaged 40.5 yards per punt on 27 attempts for the Tigers... Also played wide receiver for Valley, collecting 18 catches for 236 yards and one touch-down...Unanimous All-Iowa Conference and second-team Class 4A All-State according to the Iowa Newspaper Association...Also lettered in soccer...First-team All-Iowa Conference goalie.

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